condensation
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Condensation is the change of the
state of matter In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and Plasma (physics), plasma. Many intermediate states are known to exist, such as ...
from the
gas phase In the outline of physical science, physical sciences, a phase is a region of space (a thermodynamic system), throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, ref ...
into the
liquid phase A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a liquid, gas, or other material that continuously Deformation (physics), deforms (''flows'') under an applied shear stress, or external force. They have zero shear modulus ...
, and is the reverse of
vaporization Vaporization (or vaporisation) of an element or compound is a phase transition from the liquid phase to vapor. There are two types of vaporization: evaporation and boiling. Evaporation is a surface phenomenon, whereas boiling is a bulk phenomenon. ...
. The word most often refers to the
water cycle The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or the hydrological cycle, is a biogeochemical cycle that describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly const ...
. It can also be defined as the change in the state of water vapor to liquid water when in contact with a liquid or solid surface or
cloud condensation nuclei Cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs), also known as cloud seeds, are small particles typically 0.2 micrometre, µm, or one hundredth the size of a cloud droplet. CCNs are a unique subset of aerosols in the atmosphere on which Water vapor, water ...
within the
atmosphere An atmosphere () is a layer of gas or layers of gases that envelop a planet, and is held in place by the gravity of the planetary body. A planet retains an atmosphere when the gravity is great and the temperature of the atmosphere is low. A s ...
. When the transition happens from the gaseous phase into the solid phase directly, the change is called deposition.


Initiation

Condensation is initiated by the formation of atomic/molecular clusters of that species within its gaseous volume—like rain drop or snow flake formation within
cloud In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of miniature liquid drop (liquid), droplets, ice crystals, frozen crystals, or other particulates, particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. ...
s—or at the contact between such gaseous phase and a liquid or solid surface. In
clouds In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of miniature liquid drop (liquid), droplets, ice crystals, frozen crystals, or other particulates, particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. ...
, this can be catalyzed by water-nucleating proteins, produced by atmospheric microbes, which are capable of binding gaseous or liquid water molecules.


Reversibility scenarios

A few distinct reversibility scenarios emerge here with respect to the nature of the surface. * absorption into the surface of a liquid (either of the same substance or one of its solvents)—is reversible as
evaporation Evaporation is a type of vaporization that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gas phase. High concentration of the evaporating substance in the surrounding gas significantly slows down evaporation, such as when h ...
. *
adsorption Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions or molecules from a gas, liquid or dissolved solid to a Surface science, surface. This process creates a film of the ''adsorbate'' on the surface of the ''adsorbent''. This process differs from absorpti ...
(as dew droplets) onto solid surface at pressures and temperatures higher than the species'
triple point In thermodynamics, the triple point of a substance is the temperature and pressure at which the three Phase (matter), phases (gas, liquid, and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium.. It is that temperature and pressure at w ...
—also reversible as evaporation. * adsorption onto solid surface (as supplemental layers of solid) at pressures and temperatures lower than the species'
triple point In thermodynamics, the triple point of a substance is the temperature and pressure at which the three Phase (matter), phases (gas, liquid, and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium.. It is that temperature and pressure at w ...
—is reversible as sublimation.


Most common scenarios

Condensation commonly occurs when a
vapor In physics, a vapor (American English) or vapour (British English and Canadian English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differences) is a substance in the gas phase at a temperature lower than its critic ...
is cooled and/or compressed to its saturation limit when the molecular density in the gas phase reaches its maximal threshold. Vapor cooling and compressing equipment that collects condensed liquids is called a "condenser".


Measurement

Psychrometry measures the rates of condensation through evaporation into the air moisture at various atmospheric pressures and temperatures. Water is the product of its vapor condensation—condensation is the process of such phase conversion.


Applications of condensation

Condensation is a crucial component of
distillation Distillation, or classical distillation, is the process of separation process, separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation, usually inside an apparatus known as a still. Dry distilla ...
, an important laboratory and industrial chemistry application. Because condensation is a naturally occurring phenomenon, it can often be used to generate water in large quantities for human use. Many structures are made solely for the purpose of collecting water from condensation, such as air wells and
fog fence file:Atrapanieblas en Alto Patache.jpg, upright=1.3, ''Atrapanieblas'' or fog collection in Alto Patache, Atacama Desert, Chile Fog collection is the harvesting of water from fog using large pieces of vertical mesh netting to induce the fog-drop ...
s. Such systems can often be used to retain soil moisture in areas where active
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid. It is the spread of arid areas caused by ...
is occurring—so much so that some organizations educate people living in affected areas about water condensers to help them deal effectively with the situation. It is also a crucial process in forming particle tracks in a
cloud chamber A cloud chamber, also known as a Wilson cloud chamber, is a particle detector used for visualizing the passage of ionizing radiation. A cloud chamber consists of a sealed environment containing a supersaturation, supersaturated vapour of wate ...
. In this case, ions produced by an incident particle act as nucleation centers for the condensation of the vapor producing the visible "cloud" trails. Commercial applications of condensation, by consumers as well as industry, include power generation, water desalination, thermal management, refrigeration, and air conditioning.


Biological adaptation

Numerous living beings use water made accessible by condensation. A few examples of these are the
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
n thorny devil, the darkling beetles of the
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and ea ...
n coast, and the coast redwoods of the
West Coast of the United States The West Coast of the United States, also known as the Pacific Coast, Pacific states, and the western seaboard, is the coastline along which the Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. The term typically refers to the Contiguous Unit ...
.


Condensation in building construction

Condensation in building
construction Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form Physical object, objects, systems, or organizations,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Pr ...
is an unwanted
phenomenon A phenomenon (plural, : phenomena) is an observable event. The term came into its modern Philosophy, philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant, who contrasted it with the noumenon, which ''cannot'' be directly observed. Kant was heavily influe ...
as it may cause dampness, mold health issues,
wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the Plant stem, stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic materiala natural composite material, composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and emb ...
rot,
corrosion Corrosion is a Erosion, natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable oxide. It is the gradual deterioration of materials (usually a metal) by chemical or electrochemical reaction with their environment. Corrosio ...
, weakening of mortar and masonry walls, and energy penalties due to increased
heat transfer Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of thermal energy (heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic s ...
. To alleviate these issues, the indoor air humidity needs to be lowered, or air ventilation in the building needs to be improved. This can be done in a number of ways, for example opening windows, turning on extractor fans, using dehumidifiers, drying clothes outside and covering pots and pans whilst cooking. Air conditioning or ventilation systems can be installed that help remove moisture from the air, and move air throughout a building. The amount of water vapor that can be stored in the air can be increased simply by increasing the temperature. However, this can be a double edged sword as most condensation in the home occurs when warm, moisture heavy air comes into contact with a cool surface. As the air is cooled, it can no longer hold as much water vapor. This leads to deposition of water on the cool surface. This is very apparent when central heating is used in combination with single glazed windows in winter. Interstructure condensation may be caused by thermal bridges, insufficient or lacking insulation,
damp proofing Damp proofing in construction is a type of moisture control applied to building walls and floors to prevent Damp (structural), moisture from passing into the interior spaces. Dampness problems are among the most frequent problems encountered in r ...
or
insulated glazing Insulating glass (IG) consists of two or more glass Paned window (architecture), window panes separated by a space to reduce heat transfer across a part of the building envelope. A window with insulating glass is commonly known as double glazin ...
.


Table


See also

*
Air well (condenser) An air well or aerial well is a structure or device that collects water by promoting the condensation of water vapor, moisture from air. Designs for air wells are many and varied, but the simplest designs are completely passive, require no exte ...
*
Bose–Einstein condensate In condensed matter physics, a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) is a state of matter that is typically formed when a gas of bosons at very low Density, densities is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero#Relation with Bose–Einste ...
*
Cloud physics Cloud physics is the study of the physical processes that lead to the formation, growth and precipitation of atmospheric clouds. These aerosols are found in the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere, which collectively make up the greatest p ...
*
Condenser (heat transfer) In systems involving heat transfer, a condenser is a heat exchanger used to Condensation, condense a gaseous substance into a liquid state through cooling. In so doing, the latent heat is released by the substance and transferred to the surroundi ...
* DNA condensation * Dropwise condensation *
Groasis Waterboxx The Groasis Waterboxx is a device designed to help in growing tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, usually supporting branches and leaves. In some usages, the definition ...
*
Kelvin equation The Kelvin equation describes the change in vapour pressure due to a curved liquid–vapor interface, such as the surface of a droplet. The vapor pressure at a convex curved surface is higher than that at a flat surface. The Kelvin equation is de ...
*
Liquefaction of gases Liquefaction of gases is physical conversion of a gas into a liquid state (condensation). The liquefaction of gases is a complicated process that uses various compressions and expansions to achieve high pressures and very low temperatures, using, ...
*
Phase diagram A phase diagram in physical chemistry, engineering, mineralogy, and materials science is a type of chart used to show conditions (pressure, temperature, volume, etc.) at which thermodynamically distinct phase (matter), phases (such as solid, liq ...
*
Phase transition In chemistry, thermodynamics, and other related fields, a phase transition (or phase change) is the physical process of transition between one state of a medium and another. Commonly the term is used to refer to changes among the basic State of ...
* Retrograde condensation *
Surface condenser A surface condenser is a water-cooled shell and tube heat exchanger installed to condense exhaust steam from a steam turbine in thermal power stations. These Condenser (heat transfer), condensers are heat exchangers which convert steam from its g ...


References

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